I've made well over 7 figures as an affiliate marketer, but I've never been able to quite make the Amazon associates program (their affiliate program) work for me.
For example, these are my month to date sales...
Not sexy. My dog has a prescription that costs more than this per month.
And look at those clicks and conversions! Imagine making 74 sales and walking out with $82.85. That's barely a dollar per sale. My son makes more than that per sale selling pop and Pringles out of his locker at school.
In fairness to the program, I am by no means approaching it in an efficient manner. I promote mostly books, which literally earn close to $0 than $1 per sale.
The tiny profits are just a nice add-on. A "might as well," rather than " these will do really well" business decision.
In addition to this terrible commissions to conversions ratio, I have some resentment for the program in general. Amazon left a terrible taste in my mouth back in April of 2020 when they slashed commission rates.
Any content you see online that is sharing success stories of websites that leverage the program need to be looked at with the lens of "pre and past Amazon commission armageddon."
Many businesses were absolutely taken to the cleaners by these commission changes. Categories such as furniture and home improvement tanked from 8% to 3%. As did other popular categories like grocery, which slid from 5% to 1%.
This was especially brutal for businesses who had an exit strategy and were looking to sell their websites for 36-48x multipliers of their revenue. Many had their valuations cut into a fraction of what they were worth the day before.
However, my approach in business has always been to focus less on things like percentages and more on the ROI of my time and capital. I don't care what the commission rates are if the program is still making me as much money as I feel my time is worth.
I'd take a 1% commission on a $1,000,000 sale if that was the best I could get and it didn't take me more time than it was worth. That's still a nice $10,000.
Is Amazon Associate's Worth It?
So, is it actually worth joining the Amazon associate program?
It's obvious that many bloggers have figured it out and focus on more expensive products with higher commission rates.
People ask me all the time about whether or not I recommend the Amazon associate program, and my answer is usually, "it doesn't hurt to join it and promote things that are relevant, but it isn't working for me enough to focus on it."
I do think that most people will overestimate the earning potential on their links though, so I created a free worksheet that will help you better understand the types of payouts certain products can bring in.
Overview of the Worksheet
The worksheet I built includes a couple of things.
First, it has all of the Amazon categories and their corresponding commission rates. This is data that I just pulled from the Amazon associate dashboard (see it any time at https://affiliate-program.amazon.com/p/stores/ratePlan).
These numbers will change over time and I may or may not get around to updating this chart when they do.
Next, I include a page with an explanation of Amazon bounty fees. These are things like Audible trials, Amazon Prime and other Amazon related programs. These have flat fees and are hard sells since so many people already know about them (that has been my excuse anyway).
Next, I touched on a part of the program people forget about, refunds. Finding the exact refund rates for Amazon categories wasn't possible, so I used data from a survey by Statista about consumer's e-commerce refund behavior. The data is far from perfect, but it does showcase that some categories like clothing and apparel will see extremely high refund rates.
Finally, the meat of the workbook is on the first tab. It allows you to choose a product, enter the price, category and estimated units sold so you can see estimated net commissions.
Download the Free Worksheet
Clicking the link below will prompt you to "Make a Copy" of the free worksheet. This will allow you to make it your own and edit it. I cannot see what you do with your sheet and neither can anyone else.
I am much more bullish on Amazon for sellers than for affiliate marketers. However, if you promote physical goods anyway, it's worth joining, even though you'll likely need to make a huge amount of sales to see any substantial profits.
Many influencers swear by the value of the program, but I don't think it should be anyone's first affiliate or main affiliate program.
Master Affilaite Marketing!
If you want to level up your affiliate marketing game, head over to Amazon and grab yourself a copy of my book Evergreen Affiliate Marketing
The commission rates for Amazon Associates is indeed low, but they still remain one of the most popular affiliate programs to join. How did you go about promoting your Amazon items? Did you do product review sites and optimize via SEO?
Yeah, they are still the premier affiliate program for basic physical products. It’s kind of “something is better than nothing.”